Posted on: January 15, 2016

Referendum RE: Constitution Administrative Error, March 31

On August 13, 2015, a referendum took place at which WFN Members gave approval to accept eleven Constitution amendment proposals. Following the referendum and during the final drafting of the amended Constitution, an administrative error was found in the section “Persons Entitled to Membership.”

The questions on the ballot at the August referendum referenced a document titled “Proposed Amendments to the Westbank First Nation Constitution” dated April 13, 2015. It was in Proposal 2 of this document where the word “or” was not changed to “and” from the original wording in section 8.1 (a) of the 2007 Constitution. This was clearly an administrative error as all other communication materials for this section correctly used the word “and.”

The intent for entitlement to be a WFN Member is that three criteria be met. Those being:

  1. Must have Indian status
  2. Must have a biological tie to WFN Membership through a parent and a grandparent
  3. Cannot be a member of another Band or Tribe

A joint legal opinion obtained from Arbutus Law Group and Juristes Power Law advised that Council does not have the authority to publish a corrected version of the WFN Constitution by arbitrarily replacing the word “or” in section 8.1 (a) even though the intent was clear from all materials and community consultation that the word should have been “and”:

  • 2014 newsletters: June, July, August, September and December
  • 2015 newsletters: January, April
  • Member staff presentations: August 6 and 10, 2015
  • Membership meetings (powerpoints): June 12, 2014, April 9, 2015
  • Backgrounder dated May 12, 2015 contained in Member information package and made available at the polling station
  • Council meetings: March 9, 2015, May 11, 2015
  • Eleven Community Working Group meetings: Rolling chart of proposed amendments

The legal opinion also advised that case law research and rules of statutory interpretation does support interpreting the existing reference as “and” until the next round of constitutional amendments takes place in three years. However, Council made the decision at the December 21, 2015 Council meeting that it is cleaner and less open to interpretation to address this sooner rather than later, so as set out in Part XIII, Amendment of Constitution, the process for passage of constitutional amendments is underway to correct the error in wording.

Please note that a referendum will take place solely for the purpose of amending this wording error in a timely fashion. There is still the requirement in section 8.3 of the Constitution that states:

“Council shall, no later than three (3) years from the date this section comes into force, conduct a review and consult with the Membership concerning the rules in this Part of entitlement to be a Member, the requirement to be registered under the Indian Act in order to be a Member, as well as other rules in this Part they deem appropriate for review.”

Incorrect Proposed Amendment used on August 13, 2015 Referendum Ballot

Following is the excerpt from Proposal 2 from the document “Proposed Amendments to the WFN Constitution, April 13, 2015” which was the document referred to on the ballot questions at the referendum. It is in this section where the word “or” was incorrectly used in section 8.1 (a):

Revise Section 8.1



A person is entitled to be a Member and be included on the Membership Roll if he or she was registered as an Indian under the Indian Act,; and:

(a) at least one of his or her biological parents is or was a Member or entitled to be a Member; or

(b) his or her transfer to become a Member has been approved under section 13 of this Part. 

New Section 8.1 (b)  (b) at least one of the parents of the biological parent described in subsection 8.1 (a) is or was a Member or entitled to be a Member.   

Purpose of March 31, 2016 Referendum

To change the word "or" (as referenced in the box above) to the word "and," as use of the word "or" in the August 13, 2015 Referendum was an administrative error.


Date: Thursday, March 31, 2016
Time: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Location: Multi-purpose Room, 1920 Quail Lane

Mail-in Ballot

Electors who are not ordinarily residents on Westbank First Nation Lands are entitled to vote by mail-in ballot. A ballot will be mailed to all non-resident WFN Members unless they advise the Electoral Officer in writing that they do not want to receive a ballot.

If you do not wish to receive a mail-in ballot, advise the Electoral Office by February 19, 2016.

Mail-in ballot deadline: mail-in ballots must be received by the Electoral Officer by March 15, 2016.

Click for more information regarding conditions for voting by mail-in ballot.

More Information

Westbank First Nation Constitution (Amended August 2015) 


Raf DeGuevara
T 250 769 2440

Barb Coble
T 250 769 2440